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TEC 140 - the greatest consumer telescope in history?

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#1 jrbarnett

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 02:55 PM

BillP's thread on "classics" got me thinking about all of the dozens of instruments I've owned over the years, and which, were I asked to identify one of them above all the rest, my favorite would be, and why.

 

Per the title, it's the TEC 140.  It ain't the biggest, nor the rarest, nor the most expensive instrument I've owned.  But it is the best.

 

But why?

 

A little about me.  I've been observing since the early 1970s.  I've owned more than 50 telescopes and have more than 15 currently.  The largest I have ever owned is 16".  The smallest is 60mm.  I own or have owned Mak Newts, achromats, ED doublets, apochromats, SCTs (both Edge and non-Edge), MCTs (both Gregory and Rumak), D-K's, Dobs and Newts.  Focal ratios have ranged from f/4.3 to f/17.  I am purely a visual observer.  I don't do binoviewers either.

 

Of all of these instruments used over a four decade period, for me the TEC 140 reigns supreme.  Oh TEC how I love thee!  Let me count the ways...

 

The TEC is the contrast king.

 

The TEC is smooth.  The smoothest optic I have ever owned.  The TEC has masterfully coated surfaces (see invisi-glass image below).  The TEC lacks 4 of the superfluous light-scattering, contrast-robbing surfaces that an air spaced triplet or SCT are burdened with.

 

P3221326.jpg

 

The TEC is light and compact.

 

TEC weighs just 19# bare and is scarcely a meter long with dew shade retracted.  It can live happily and easily on an NEQ6/Atlas/CGEM.  Anyone can carry it in any vehicle.  Anyone can install it in the mount saddle easily.

 

P3221335.jpg

 

The TEC is ready to observe when you are.

 

The TEC design cribs off of the design cues of the earlier Zeiss APQs.  It is an oiled contact triplet.  The not only graces it with superior contrast on account of fewer scattering surfaces, but also rapid acclimation.  There has never been a session, in any season, at any elevation or in any environment where the TEC was not producing excellent visual images from the moment I remove the front lens cap and take my first peek to the moment I take it down and put it back in its case.  While others with wide air-gapped triplet lenses and enclosed catadioptrics are still busy making excuses for their scopes, the TEC owner is well into his or her observing list for the session.

 

P4201676.jpg

 

The TEC is affordable (not cheap) and available.

 

Today new TEC 140s go for $5700.  When they debuted a decade or so ago, the retail price was around $4600.  The TEC in 2014 Dollars is actually cheaper than it was in 2004 Dollars by around $250.  Now $5700 is a lot of money for most of us.  But for a large apochromatic triplet, it really isn't all that much.  For a 6" APM/LZOS triplet you'd pay a little shy of twice that.  For a 5" APM/LZOS triplet, you'd pay around 35% MORE.  For around the same price you could get a 100mm LZOS triplet.  Switching from Euros to Yen, matters are even worse for the competition.  A 6" Takahashi TOA will cost you double the TEC.  The smaller TOA-130 will cost you $1500 more than the TEC and still leave you hanging with a second-rate focuser to replace.

 

When I purchased my TEC the wait was about 6 months.  The wait for new TEC 140s is now almost 12 months.  Still, for a bespoke item, masterfully crafted by a single team under a single roof, a 12 month wait is minimal.  More on TEC's business model advantages over its peers shortly.

 

The TEC is smart.

 

The TEC 140 design is not only thermally superior and contrast-superior as discussed above.  It is also smart by optical design.  The peak design Strehl is 0.990 at 546nm where the eye is most acute and sensitive, with a design Polychromatic Strehl of 0.920 from 436nm to 656nm.  The gentle f/7 focal ratio, in part, makes this possible.  Designing any optic is an exercise in compromises, balancing inversely correlated virtues against one another.  TEC's particular solution to the design problem results in a scope that is sublime for any purpose, affordable, portable and convenient. 

 

The TEC is *made*, not just *assembled*, by TEC.

 

TEC is a small business located in Colorado, USA.  TEC scopes are made, end-to-end, by TEC's small Colorado team.  TEC has no cost-levying middlemen in its model.  It does not procure (and provide margin for) the lenses from an OEM lens maker and then integrate them into tube assemblies of other origins as do APM/LZOS, Takahashi and Televue (and Astro-Tech, William Optics and Stellarvue do, for that matter).  The design, execution and QC all happen under one roof by a handful of skilled workers whose sole job it to make TEC telescopes.  The level of control in such a model is an order of magnitude higher than in the integrator models used by others.  Yuri Petrunin is the man businessmen like  Vic Maris and Marcus Ludes want you to believe them to be.  (:lol: Kidding, kidding, kidding...not.)

 

TEC 140 - not just the best real world refractor but the best real world astronomical telescope, all things considered.  An instant classic.

 

- Jim 

 


 

#2 crow

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 03:13 PM

Nice scope for sure Jim. I'm aiming for one.

 

Theres only one problem, where's the fluorite... :)


 

#3 Ziggy943

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 03:28 PM

The 160 ED is all of the above in a slightly larger package. The views of Saturn and Jupiter just a little bit crisper. IMHO, the 160 ED was the best value in the TEC line.  Financially the jump from the 140 to the 160 FL is a significant jump. But while I defer to Yuri in determining his business model I would have thought the intermediate pricing of the 160 ED would be a favorite.


 

#4 Denimsky

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 03:41 PM

Congratulation on your new scope and thank you for the detailed explanation.

 

I only wish they had a dealer in Canada.


 

#5 jrbarnett

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 03:46 PM



Nice scope for sure Jim. I'm aiming for one.

 

Theres only one problem, where's the fluorite... :)

Fluorite?  Nasty, soft, unstable stuff that forms in the ground.

 

To wit...

 

P1010023_zps32668a9b.jpg

 

P1010022_zps15814dce.jpg

 

In a word, "ewwwwwwwww".   :grin:

 

Clean and tidy Ohara FPL-53 is much more desirable.

 

- Jim


Edited by jrbarnett, 16 September 2014 - 03:50 PM.

 

#6 Paul G

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 03:47 PM

 

The TEC is *made*, not just *assembled*, by TEC.

 

TEC is a small business located in Colorado, USA.  TEC scopes are made, end-to-end, by TEC's small Colorado team.  TEC has no cost-levying middlemen in its model.  It does not procure (and provide margin for) the lenses from an OEM lens maker and then integrate them into tube assemblies of other origins as do APM/LZOS, Takahashi and Televue (and Astro-Tech, William Optics and Stellarvue do, for that matter).  The design, execution and QC all happen under one roof by a handful of skilled workers whose sole job it to make TEC telescopes.  The level of control in such a model is an order of magnitude higher than in the integrator models used by others.

- Jim 

 

There are other benefits of doing everything in house in addition to the lack of middlemen. They figure their own optics, like Roland, so they can work each set until it meets their minimum guaranteed optical quality. It it's jobbed out there are going to be a few sets that don't quite make the grade. Do you still sell them and don't tell the customer? Do you trash them and build the cost into the good ones? Do you just not advertise any minimum optical quality like Tak? Machining the OTA's in house allows them to tweak the design as they find ways to improve it, and they can incorporate the tweaks in the next scope out the door. If it's contracted out they'd have to sell all the ota's currently in the pipeline/contract, then pay for a change order, and then have the changes incorporated into the subsequent production runs.

 

Nice house, BTW!


Edited by Paul G, 16 September 2014 - 03:47 PM.

 

#7 jrbarnett

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 03:47 PM

Congratulation on your new scope and thank you for the detailed explanation.

 

I only wish they had a dealer in Canada.

Oh it's not new.  Mine is about 5 years old.

 

It's just taken me some years of use, comparison and rumination to reach the conclusion that, all things considered, the TEC 140 is the best available telescope today.

 

You order directly from TEC.  They will ship to Canada.

 

- Jim


Edited by jrbarnett, 16 September 2014 - 03:48 PM.

 

#8 Mike Clemens

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 03:54 PM

I would have a hard time debating that


 

#9 jrbarnett

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 04:01 PM

On the value front, you get what you pay for.  Let's face it.  There ain't no profits in achromats.  Just look at the polish quality of big achromats compared to a higher dollar TEC 140:

 

Scatter and reflection:

 

http://www.astromart...99/793809-5.jpg

 

http://www.nightskie...bjective1_m.jpg

 

IMG_0486_zpsefdea812.jpg

 

IMG_0067_zps25f25aa7.jpg

 

Why?  Because if they spent the time figuring and polishing them to the same level as a premium apochromat, they couldn't make any money and in fact would lose money selling them.

 

A hundred or more years ago when the achromat was the costly apochromat of its own heyday, achromats were then like apochromats are now, the best telescopes available, all things considered.

 

- Jim


Edited by jrbarnett, 16 September 2014 - 04:02 PM.

 

#10 BKBrown

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 04:02 PM

You'll get no argument from me Jim, the TEC 140 is great for visual and imaging work :jump:

 

Clear Skies,

Brian

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_7265sc.jpg

 

#11 SteveC

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 04:05 PM

Jim,

 

I'm crying right now. That was[sniffle] just beautiful! :bawling:


Edited by SteveC, 16 September 2014 - 04:10 PM.

 

#12 Peter in Reno

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 04:10 PM

I enjoy imaging with my TEC 140 (#044).

 

My TEC 140 setup.

 

Peter


Edited by Peter in Reno, 16 September 2014 - 04:14 PM.

 

#13 Rich_W

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 04:11 PM

Mine (#299) was delivered eight years ago.    Probably the best purchase I ever made and the one scope I could never part with.


 

#14 SteveC

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 04:22 PM

Brian & Peter, 

 

Nice setups!!!

 

Peter, 

I like the weathering on your yard fence.


 

#15 Peter in Reno

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 04:26 PM

Brian & Peter, 

 

Nice setups!!!

 

Peter, 

I like the weathering on your yard fence.

 

Thanks. I have to thank my sprinkler system for weathering my fence. :grin:

 

Peter


 

#16 SteveC

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 04:42 PM

 

Brian & Peter, 

 

Nice setups!!!

 

Peter, 

I like the weathering on your yard fence.

 

Thanks. I have to thank my sprinkler system for weathering my fence. :grin:

 

Peter

 

 

Oh, okay, my wife would never have bought that line, but I'm glad it works for you. ;)


 

#17 Don Allen

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 05:05 PM

Yuri and his staff certainly hit the Goldilocks spot with the 140.

 

  


Edited by dr.who, 17 September 2014 - 12:33 AM.

 

#18 SteveC

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 05:29 PM

I can do the dual setup to:
 
1829459-Mak-TEC.jpg

 


 

#19 Scott99

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 05:51 PM

TEC140's are popular for a reason - great scope!   There is definitely a populist "everyman's scope" quality to it - it's as if TEC did everything they could to get a 6 inch apo into as many peoples' hands possible.  The price and size are small, the quality is high.

 

If we're voting on the "ultimate" consumer telescope however I'd have to go with the 21-inch APM/LZOS apo!   :bow:  :bow:


 

#20 JMKarian

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 05:59 PM

Jim,

i have always enjoyed your insightful observations and experiences in the realm of amateur telescopes. Sharing your grasp of both the optical and mechanical subtleties in these instruments has been most appreciated - thanks!

 

You might comment on the TEC 140 vs the AP 140, if you have had a chance to compare these two fine pieces

 

Clear skies

John


 

#21 ichdien

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 06:10 PM

Yes, a great scope.  I sold mine only because I had an opportunity to pick up an AP 155 for reasonable price.  The AP gives marginally better views, and I'm happy with my decision to go (slightly) bigger, but I miss that rotatable focuser!


 

#22 JJK

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 06:16 PM

BillP's thread on "classics" got me thinking about all of the dozens of instruments I've owned over the years, and which, were I asked to identify one of them above all the rest, my favorite would be, and why.
 
Per the title, it's the TEC 140.  It ain't the biggest, nor the rarest, nor the most expensive instrument I've owned.  But it is the best.
 
But why?
 
A little about me.  I've been observing since the early 1970s.  I've owned more than 50 telescopes and have more than 15 currently.  The largest I have ever owned is 16".  The smallest is 60mm.  I own or have owned Mak Newts, achromats, ED doublets, apochromats, SCTs (both Edge and non-Edge), MCTs (both Gregory and Rumak), D-K's, Dobs and Newts.  Focal ratios have ranged from f/4.3 to f/17.  I am purely a visual observer.  I don't do binoviewers either.
 
Of all of these instruments used over a four decade period, for me the TEC 140 reigns supreme.  Oh TEC how I love thee!  Let me count the ways...
 
The TEC is the contrast king.
 
The TEC is smooth.  The smoothest optic I have ever owned.  The TEC has masterfully coated surfaces (see invisi-glass image below).  The TEC lacks 4 of the superfluous light-scattering, contrast-robbing surfaces that an air spaced triplet or SCT are burdened with.
 
P3221326.jpg
 
The TEC is light and compact.
 
TEC weighs just 19# bare and is scarcely a meter long with dew shade retracted.  It can live happily and easily on an NEQ6/Atlas/CGEM.  Anyone can carry it in any vehicle.  Anyone can install it in the mount saddle easily.
 
P3221335.jpg
 
The TEC is ready to observe when you are.
 
The TEC design cribs off of the design cues of the earlier Zeiss APQs.  It is an oiled contact triplet.  The not only graces it with superior contrast on account of fewer scattering surfaces, but also rapid acclimation.  There has never been a session, in any season, at any elevation or in any environment where the TEC was not producing excellent visual images from the moment I remove the front lens cap and take my first peek to the moment I take it down and put it back in its case.  While others with wide air-gapped triplet lenses and enclosed catadioptrics are still busy making excuses for their scopes, the TEC owner is well into his or her observing list for the session.
 
P4201676.jpg
 
The TEC is affordable (not cheap) and available.
 
Today new TEC 140s go for $5700.  When they debuted a decade or so ago, the retail price was around $4600.  The TEC in 2014 Dollars is actually cheaper than it was in 2004 Dollars by around $250.  Now $5700 is a lot of money for most of us.  But for a large apochromatic triplet, it really isn't all that much.  For a 6" APM/LZOS triplet you'd pay a little shy of twice that.  For a 5" APM/LZOS triplet, you'd pay around 35% MORE.  For around the same price you could get a 100mm LZOS triplet.  Switching from Euros to Yen, matters are even worse for the competition.  A 6" Takahashi TOA will cost you double the TEC.  The smaller TOA-130 will cost you $1500 more than the TEC and still leave you hanging with a second-rate focuser to replace.
 
When I purchased my TEC the wait was about 6 months.  The wait for new TEC 140s is now almost 12 months.  Still, for a bespoke item, masterfully crafted by a single team under a single roof, a 12 month wait is minimal.  More on TEC's business model advantages over its peers shortly.
 
The TEC is smart.
 
The TEC 140 design is not only thermally superior and contrast-superior as discussed above.  It is also smart by optical design.  The peak design Strehl is 0.990 at 546nm where the eye is most acute and sensitive, with a design Polychromatic Strehl of 0.920 from 436nm to 656nm.  The gentle f/7 focal ratio, in part, makes this possible.  Designing any optic is an exercise in compromises, balancing inversely correlated virtues against one another.  TEC's particular solution to the design problem results in a scope that is sublime for any purpose, affordable, portable and convenient. 
 
The TEC is *made*, not just *assembled*, by TEC.
 
TEC is a small business located in Colorado, USA.  TEC scopes are made, end-to-end, by TEC's small Colorado team.  TEC has no cost-levying middlemen in its model.  It does not procure (and provide margin for) the lenses from an OEM lens maker and then integrate them into tube assemblies of other origins as do APM/LZOS, Takahashi and Televue (and Astro-Tech, William Optics and Stellarvue do, for that matter).  The design, execution and QC all happen under one roof by a handful of skilled workers whose sole job it to make TEC telescopes.  The level of control in such a model is an order of magnitude higher than in the integrator models used by others.  Yuri Petrunin is the man businessmen like  Vic Maris and Marcus Ludes want you to believe them to be.  ( :lol: Kidding, kidding, kidding...not.)
 
TEC 140 - not just the best real world refractor but the best real world astronomical telescope, all things considered.  An instant classic.
 
- Jim


But it isn't a Zeiss 130 or 150 APQ.
 

#23 flyingcougar

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 07:03 PM

"But it isn't a Zeiss 130 or 150 APQ."

 

No...but it does fit in right between them rather nicely! ;)


 

#24 SteveC

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 07:04 PM

Jim,

i have always enjoyed your insightful observations and experiences in the realm of amateur telescopes. Sharing your grasp of both the optical and mechanical subtleties in these instruments has been most appreciated - thanks!

 

You might comment on the TEC 140 vs the AP 140, if you have had a chance to compare these two fine pieces

 

Clear skies

John

Why ruin a perfectly good thread?

 

AP, AP, AP - that's all anybody wants to talk about. ;)


 

#25 vahe

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 07:45 PM

Why ruin a perfectly good thread?

 

 

 

AP, AP, AP - that's all anybody wants to talk about. ;)

 

Actually AP cheerleaders have been relatively constrained in their unconditional praise of AP140, do not know why? Perhaps not many were made, a few that hit the used market were overpriced, but then are you really surprised?

 

Vahe


 


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